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Russian Climate Delegate Apologizes for Assault on Ukraine

“All of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine.”

Smoke billows over the town of Vasylkiv just outside Kyiv on February 27, 2022, after overnight Russian strikes hit an oil depot.

A Russian climate delegate apologized to his Ukrainian counterparts and other government officials on Sunday for the ongoing and deadly invasion, which he decried as wholly unwarranted.

“First of all, let me thank Ukraine and present an apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict,” Oleg Anisimov, the head of Russia’s delegation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said during a private virtual meeting.

“All of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine,” added Anisimov, a scientist at the state hydrological institute in St. Petersburg. “Since we are dealing with scientific issues, we have huge admiration for the Ukrainian delegation that was able to still do its work.”

Anisimov’s remarks, which attendees hailed as courageous and moving, came after Ukraine’s delegation to the IPCC was forced to briefly depart a meeting Thursday due to Russia’s attack, which has thus far killed an estimated 350 civilians and heightened the risk of a catastrophic nuclear war.

According to one human rights organization, thousands of Russian anti-war demonstrators have been arrested in recent days during demonstrations against the invasion.

The Daily Beast characterized Anisimov’s comments as “possibly the first instance of a Moscow official speaking out against the invasion.”

Government delegates to the IPCC gathered Sunday to put the finishing touches on the body’s latest scientific report, which is expected to show that the human-caused climate crisis is accelerating, sparking devastating extreme weather across the globe.

The report is set to be published early Monday.

Svitlana Krakovska, the leader of Ukraine’s delegation to the IPCC, reportedly used her remarks at Sunday’s IPCC meeting to link war and the climate emergency.

“Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots — fossil fuels and our dependence on them,” Krakovska said, according to another government delegate in attendance.

Krakovska also reportedly voiced dismay that the IPCC’s vitally important findings will have to “compete for media space with war.”

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